Whether you’re planning a vacation or an unexpected issue pops up and pulls you out of the office for an extended period of time, you need to be prepared. I know you can’t plan for everything, but these tips will help make your life a little less stressful so you can actually enjoy that vacation to Italy and use your smartphone for pictures instead of emails.

Work Ahead

If you are someone who is always working on tasks at the last minute, this is going to be crucial to make sure your business runs smoothly while you’re away. Get your employees or your marketing team working 30 days out. Write blog posts a month early so you have time to provide edits and revisions. Whether you’re publishing four blog posts a month or 20, get in the habit of working ahead so if something unexpected pops up you aren’t scrambling to edit content at the last minute. Make sure you also plan to work ahead on your email newsletters. If you know when your busy season is, let your marketing team know, that way they can get however many emails they need created and approved so you don’t miss crucial deadlines. Use the same technique with social media. Schedule Facebook posts or Tweets in advance so your social media accounts don’t go silent just because you aren’t in the office.

Meet with Your Team

Fun fact, your coworkers would like advance notice if you plan to leave for a two week Caribbean vacation. Sit down with your team and go through any action items well before you leave for vacation. Make sure you notify your team of any important meetings on your calendar while you are away. Assign someone to sit in on your meeting or call and take notes. Get a clear understanding of what your team will be working on while you’re out so you aren’t calling your office every day you are gone.

Pick Your P.O.C.

If you’re out of the office and unavailable to answer calls or emails, you will need to appoint someone in the office as the Point of Contact while you’re away. They will act as your Second in Command, overseeing various projects and communicating with clients or customers on your behalf. Just because you leave for a week a two doesn’t mean the business comes to a screeching halt. Your clients still need to be able to talk to someone in your office who can help them. If your customers are dead set on only speaking with you, make sure your designated Point of Contact takes detailed notes and contact information and copies you on any emails. Even if you don’t plan to check your email while you’re away, you will be properly filled in when you get back. Which leads me to my next point . . .

Update Your Email Settings

Any time you are out of the office for an extended period of time, updating your email settings is important not only for your customers, but for you as well. The ‘out of office’ feature in Gmail is a lifesaver. Utilize this feature. Hop into your Gmail account settings and turn on the Vacation Responder feature for the duration of your trip. Once this feature is enabled, anytime someone emails you they will automatically receive an email notifying them you are out of the office. I recommend suggesting someone else the client can contact at your office in your autoreply. That way your customer has the option to call someone else in your office to answer their questions instead of waiting until you return from vacation to respond. This also ensures your customers understand you are out of the office and should not expect to hear from you until said date. This will make your life much easier and your vacation more enjoyable.

Give Customers Advance Notice

I mentioned informing your coworkers in advance about any upcoming trips, but don’t forget to also tell your customers. I always appreciate when a client lets me know when they will be out of town. That way we can work around their vacation and schedule meetings accordingly. Also, if I have to send them any information, I know I either need to contact someone else in their office, or wait until they are back from vacation. When you don’t tell customers you are out of the office and emails and phone calls go unanswered, you’ve got a problem. Be courteous and be the first person to tell customers you will be out of the office. There’s nothing worse than trying to contact someone for a week and then finding out from their receptionist they are on vacation and never told you. Don’t be that person.

Going on vacation is supposed to be a time where you sit back, relax and forget about work for a week or two. However, how you prepare before you leave helps determine how relaxed you’ll be. Use these tips to get your ducks in a row before you leave the office, then all you have to do is prepare for all of the fun you’re going to have while on vacation.